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Duval now a low transmission county for COVID-19, health officials say

Anticipating a green light from vaccine advisers, the Biden administration is assembling and shipping millions of COVID-19 shots for children ages 5-11, the White House said Monday. The first could go into kids' arms by midweek.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health in Duval County said Monday morning the county is now considered to be a low transmission county as the number of cases continues to fall.

A Department of Health official told members of the City Council the current new cases positivity rate is 2.9%, a level not seen in over a year.

For context, during the first week of August, the positivity rate in Duval County was 25.4% and the new cases per 100,000 were 812.6. Currently, the department of health is reporting a seven-day average of 41.2 new cases per 100,000 people in Duval County, which the CDC still considers a moderate transmission level.

“I think a combination of a few things, the number of people vaccinated is the biggest contributing factor of us getting right to the top of the hump where we’re about to start see it come down,” said UF Health Jacksonville’s Dr. Chirag Patel.

Patel said people getting immunity through COVID-19 infection is also a contributing factor, but not a reason to not get vaccinated.

“Which again is a reminder it’s shorter-lived than the vaccine immunity. If you had COVID and you’re holding out, please don’t do that, please seek the vaccine if you’re cleared by your physician to do so,” he said.

As a result of the decrease in cases, the department of health is cutting back on hours at city testing sites.

Two sites located at Emmett Reed Community Center and Cuba Hunter Community Center will now be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The sites will remain open until the end of the year.

A drop in the transmission rate has also prompted Duval County Public Schools to make a change.

Duval County students no longer need a doctor’s note to opt out of wearing a face mask. The district decided to relax its policy now that the seven-day positivity rate has declined below 7.99%. Masks are still required, but opting out is easier.

Health officials told city council Monday there have been 3,221 deaths in Duval County due to COVID-19 and 64% of the population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. That’s slightly below the state vaccination rate of 73%.

Meanwhile, 28 million children ages 5-11 are expected to become eligible for Pfizer’s vaccine after the CDC makes their recommendation on Tuesday.

With the FDA’s approval of the vaccine last week, 15 million doses went out across the country.

But the White House says the full rollout of vaccines is slated for Nov. 8.

Moderna also announced it was delaying its request for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine for kids 12-17 because of a potential increased risk of myocarditis after the second dose.

When the White House task force was asked about these issues, the panel emphasized the rollout right now is only for Pfizer and that there is enough vaccine for anyone 5 and up who wants one.


About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.